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Another poem, in the tradition of Kubla Khan

Again, in all brevity – this text shows, more than anything else, thematic similarities to Coleridge’s second most famous poem. How close the connection, that for more able minds to decide. 

You might see that I follow a certain pattern here, though – Poe’s connection to a certain Lydia H. Sigourney’s Musing Thoughts is well-documented (in that he was accused of plagiarizing from her), and it appears the connection between Poe’s and Coleridge’s texts is generally accepted.

Personally, I tend to disagree with it, though: Kubla Khan is not a “meditation”, like Poe’s poem. It starts rather slowly, yes, but given that Coleridge was so famously interrupted when he was writing it, we will never know the poem’s real intention. Personally, I speculate that a completed Kubla Khan would likely have read more like one of Thomas Gray’s odes. Perhaps even very similar to The Bard. But alas, we’ll never know…

“The Cathedral of Death”, by anonymous artist Gwabryel.

The City in the Sea, 1831/1845

Lo! Death has reared himself a throne

In a strange city lying alone
Far down within the dim West,
Where the good and the bad and the worst and the best
Have gone to their eternal rest.
There shrines and palaces and towers
(Time-eaten towers that tremble not!)
Resemble nothing that is ours.
Around, by lifting winds forgot,
Resignedly beneath the sky
The melancholy waters lie.

No rays from the holy heaven come down
On the long night-time of that town;
But light from out the lurid sea
Streams up the turrets silently —
Gleams up the pinnacles far and free —
Up domes — up spires — up kingly halls —
Up fanes — up Babylon-like walls —
Up shadowy long-forgotten bowers
Of sculptured ivy and stone flowers —
Up many and many a marvelous shrine
Whose wreathéd friezes intertwine
The viol, the violet, and the vine.
So blend the turrets and shadows there
That all seem pendulous in the air,
While from a proud tower in the town
Death looks gigantically down.

There open fanes and gaping graves
Yawn level with the luminous waves;
But not the riches there that lie
In each idol’s diamond eye —
Not the gaily-jeweled dead
Tempt the waters from their bed;
For no ripples curl, alas!
Along that wilderness of glass —
No swellings tell that winds may be
Upon some far-off happier sea —
No heavings hint that winds have been
On seas less hideously serene.

But lo, a stir is in the air!
The wave — there is a movement there!
As if the towers had thrust aside,
In slightly sinking, the dull tide —
As if their tops had feebly given
A void within the filmy Heaven.
The waves have now a redder glow —
The hours are breathing faint and low —
And when, amid no earthly moans,
Down, down that town shall settle hence,
Hell, rising from a thousand thrones,
Shall do it reverence.

Text retrieved from Wikisource.

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